About AMLA

Plena at La Feria
Plena at La Feria

AMLA's Mission

Through its ongoing programs and special projects, AMLA promotes the development, dissemination, and understanding of Latin music in the Philadelphia area and beyond.

AMLA's programs are directed mainly to Latino youth, families, and community members, but are open to all students, families, musicians, dancers, and aficionados of Latin American music and culture. By teaching and inspiring love for and disciplined knowledge of Latin music and dance, AMLA helps build bridges between frequently divided racial and ethnic communities. AMLA, like its partner organization Esperanza, believes that strong engagement in culture strengthens community.

AMLA's Programs

AMLA currently runs four primary programs:

  • The Latin School of the Performing Arts

    A community school offering authentic Latin music and dance classes to students of all ages. All instructors are experienced bilingual professionals.

  • Latin Pulse Productions (LPP)

    Complete booking, consultation, and production services tailored to your specific entertainment needs. LPP represents numerous local, national, and international-level orchestras, bands, and soloists. References, artist list, and client list available upon request.

    Ted Panamá, Sr. (R), with timbalero
  • Artists in Education

    AMLA sends expert arts educators into schools, colleges, and community centers for interactive assembly programs, residencies, or tailor-made programs, depending on the school's needs. Our Roots of Puerto Rican Music and Roots of Latin Jazz programs are perennial favorites in Philadelphia area schools. Newer programs under development include a Roots of Afro-Brazilian Music program.

  • AMLA Proudly Presents…

    In conjunction with local organizations, theaters, and media outlets, AMLA presents authentic Latin music programming in a variety of formats to the community. For more than 25 years, AMLA has organized concerts, workshops, clinics, film screenings, meet-and-greets, and other special events, as well as radio and TV programming on Latin music and dance. List of productions and collaborations available upon request.

AMLA's History

In 1982, Jesse Bermudez and the leaders of thirteen Philadelphia salsa orchestras united to protest poor working conditions for Latino musicians in the North Philadelphia club scene. The musicians went on strike and succeeded in raising their nightly pay. Riding the wave of that success, Jesse and the other founders created

AMLA's location on North 6th Street, 2000-2006
La Asociación de Músicos Latino Americanos, to represent and advocate for Latin musicians and music in Philadelphia. They agreed that a Latin music school should be established to pass Latino culture and history on to the community's youth.

La Asociación first offered music classes in 1984, and the music school was formally founded in 1986, offering classes in donated and rented space for the first few years of its existence. La Asociación rented space on the second floor at 5th & Somerset Streets from 1990-2000, and occupied the old firehouse at 2726 N. 6th St. from 2000-2006, where record numbers of students were served, and topnotch special events were created and hosted. In the 1990s through 2004, they launched dozens of projects and collaborations that significantly raised the profile of Latin music and musicians in Philadelphia, and forged links between national- and international-level artists and local musicians. It is this rich expertise and period of development that has shaped what AMLA is today.

AMLA, Esperanza, and the Future

In 2006, a new 501(c)(3) organization was created in partnership with Esperanza. It was reborn as Artistas y Músicos Latino Americanos, or Artists and Musicians of Latin America (AMLA).

With similar missions of strengthening Latino communities, AMLA and Esperanza complement each other well. Esperanza provides infrastructure, operational, financial, program development, management and capacity building expertise to AMLA, while AMLA offers more than 25 years of relationship building and expertise in local, national, and international-level arts education and production.

This partnership has rooted itself in the Hunting Park neighborhood of North Philadelphia. AMLA's has its offices at Esperanza, and its Latin School of the Performing Arts operates out of Esperanza Academy's new arts wing. To continue its connection with the history of service to the community, the acronym AMLA, so recognized within the Latino community and within the larger arts world, was carried forward with the new organization.

AMLA is currently fundraising to renovate space inside Esperanza's buildings at 4261 N. 5th Street. The new joint venture between AMLA and Esperanza will include classrooms, rehearsal space, offices, a 700-seat theater and a black box performance space. Having achieved national prominence and invaluable production and educational experience in its first 25 years of existence, the new AMLA is poised to become a permanent feature in the Philadelphia region's cultural landscape.